The Maltonian Web


Memories

Eddie Lucas - 1963 - 1971,
the last eight years of the Grammar School

Before I came to Malton Grammar School as head of the RE Department in September 1963, I had taught in a Grammar School in a dormitory town, outside Liverpool. 90% of the houses were newly built, and every year a few more dozen were being completed. True, there was the nucleus of older village houses, but most people barely knew their next door neighbours, never mind the people in the next street. So you can imagine my surprise on moving to Malton when I went into Alfie North's Newsagents in order to buy my Manchester Guardian only to betold, "You must be the new teacher at the Grammar School". Not only Alfie North knew who 1 was, but so did the milk man, the candle stick maker and all! And I hadn't even stepped inside the school (apart from my interview). So everyone in Malton had the advantage on me. They knew all about me, but I hadn't a clue about any of them.

So when I arrived at Malton Grammar School on the first Thursday in September and collected my new timetable, (or at least the timetable for the first two days - those for the rest of the week had not yet been sorted out), 1 already had the feeling I was amongst friends. Alan Martindale, who lived in the flat below mine, took me under his wing and introduced me to all my new colleagues. 1 knew all their names and much else about them on the first morning. In my previous school, which was at least twice the size, there were some colleagues I hadn't even passed the time of day with after four years.

My first class was a third form, and 1 started by making a list of the pupils' names. 1 had barely started when 1 asked a boy in the front row his name. "Robin Hood, Sir".  Now, anyone who has lived for any length of time within twenty miles of Slingsby will know that to be a perfectly natural reply, but at that time I hadn't even heard of Slingsby, let alone Robin Hood, or at least, not this one. I was about to reply along the lines of "Pull the other one" or "So what, my name is Friar Tuck", when I looked at him closely, and realised he was telling the truth. Not a trace of a smile, far less a smirk.

At morning break, Mr Philip Taylor asked if he could have a word, and I followed him into the Headmaster's Study. "Sit down", I was invited. But I didn't. There was nowhere to sit. Piles of books and papers (the embryo of next Monday's timetable, I don't wonder) were everywhere. I stood. "Of course", said Mr Taylor, "I have lost the best teacher I have ever had. No one will ever be able to replace Mr Lloyd. Not even you. Certainly not you". Well, that is not strictly true. He didn't utter the last two sentences, but I felt that he might just as well have done. Thanks, Mr Taylor, for such a great vote of confidence!

However, 1 soon realised that Mr Taylor was one of the nicest men you could ever wish to meet. Too nice to be a Headmaster! He tried to please everyone all of the time, and that just isn't possible. Two incidents about Mr Taylor from my first year at Malton Grammar School stick in my mind. The first occurred in the spring. My parents were breaking a journey from the north to spend day with me. Everyone had told me that I must pay a visit to see the daffodils at Farndale. I had two free periods at the end of the day, and I thought it would be good opportunity to slip out early, and do just that with my parents. At lunchtime, Mr Taylor came up to me to ask if I could cover a colleagues' class. He had gone home sick. Mr Taylor must have seen my face drop, as he asked if that would be inconvenient. "No, not at all. It was just that I was hoping to take my parents up to see the daffodils". "What, haven't you seen them. You must go! I'1l cover this class". So I went, and left my Headmaster to cover for me! What other Headmaster would have done that?

The second incident was in the dining room. I was sitting on the staff table having my lunch, and was sitting next to Mr Taylor, when I noticed a boy knock over a full glass of water. Nothing unusual in that, or in the fact that everyone around was trying to persuade all the others to get up, get a cloth and wipe it up. Mr Taylor got up, and I thought, "Good, he's going to sort out the little so and sos". But no! Mr Taylor went and got a cloth, and without a word, wiped up the water and then returned to finish his meal. There was something Christ like in the way he did it, as though he was getting up to wash his disciples' feet. What other Headmaster would have done that?

Such was the friendly nature of Malton Grammar School that punishment was hardly needed. I remember that as a mild reprimand I would make junior pupils clean my blackboard for me during morning break. I happened to mention this one day in the staff room, and Alan Martindale complained, 'Don't do that! I offer blackboard cleaning as a reward for good behaviour!

Boys' sport at Malton Grammar School was conducted with huge enthusiasm by Dave Pay. In such a small school, every member of staff had to be involved, and each term every teacher was expected to give up a Saturday morning to take a school team to . one of the away matches. One of the most competitive matches was the Under 15 XI v staff  cricket matches, played after the end of exams in the summer term. Unlike today, fifth and upper sixth form pupils (as the exam year pupils were called then) continued to attend school right up to the end of term. The staff liked to win, and had sufficient talent to do so in most years. However, in the match in summer 1962 (the year before I joined), the pupils came out on top. I am told that it was hastily decided to make the match a two innings match, spread out over two days, and as a result, the teachers' unbeaten record was maintained.

One of the tasks that I promised to take over from Mr Lloyd was the editing of the School Magazine, 'The Maltonian'. At interviews, one is inclined to promise anything, especially if you are keen to get the job. Come the beginning of the Summer Term, it loomed over me like a dead weight. It was all right for David Lloyd. He had got to know so many former pupils. I was feeling very much at home amongst the pupils at the school, but David Lloyd's 'Maltonian' had so much news about former pupils. It was then that I discovered just how much of a 'family' Malton Grammar School really was. I made an appeal to the pupils for any news they could give me about any pupil who had ever attended Malton Grammar School. News came flooding in! Boys and girls were telling me about the movements of their older brothers and sisters, their mums and dads, their uncles and aunts, even their grans and grandads. And if they didn't have any relative who had ever attended Malton Grammar School, they told me about the eccentric old man who lived at the other end of the village.

In 1966, a group of pupils on the editorial committee of the Maltonian asked if they could produce a monthly newspaper. As a result, the first 'Maltonian' in reverse, the 'Nainotlam' was produced. At the time, the means available to staff to reproduce anything were limited to a hand operated 'gestetner' and a hand operated 'banda'. Both were cumbersome and time consuming to use and the results were often extremely poor. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm with which this project was embraced was contagious, and before long, more and more pupils got involved. Copy came in from all over. Surveys were conducted on such topics as the best local fish and chip shops (tested for quality of both fish and chips, and of the quality of the newspapers in which they were wrapped); Malton and Norton public toilets (tested for both cleanliness and for the quality of the graffiti!); there were fashion items; letters to the editor (usually abbreviated to 'letters to Ed'). There were cartoons, often relating to members of staff (one I remember on St Valentine's Day of a card from a thinly disguised English teacher with words of endearment to a thinly disguised music teacher. There were times when I felt it unsafe to approach the staff room on days of publication for fear of the abuse I would receive from my colleagues. But such was the friendliness within the school that it was all taken in good faith. It was more a case of the pupils laughing with their teachers, not at them.

In some ways, this last decade of the Grammar School was an in between period; between the years when the school had only about 150 pupils with just one class in each school year and only a handful of staff and the time it became comprehensive, with approaching 700 pupils and two staff rooms. When I joined, it had just had an influx of new teachers, mostly young and full of fun. Such was the friendly nature of the school that teachers rarely left, so there was continuity from one year to the next.

Some teachers, such as Bruce Rolls, Mrs Williams, Philip Mason and Alan Martindale spent their entire teaching career in the one school. It is still an amazing fact that the school from the Grammar School just after the First World War to today's comprehensive has only had five Headmasters!

However, it was clear that an era was coming to an end. It would never be possible to recreate the same atmosphere in the larger comprehensive, just as the 'feel' of the 'modem' school inevitably changed. Too many teachers took the opportunity to take up new posts elsewhere. At about this time Roy Bower, Harry Whitely and John Reid all moved to new schools. Gordon Bratt retired and the school tragically lost Dave Pay, Bruce Rolls and Bernard Greaves, all of whom died. Perhaps most tragic of all was the death of the Headmaster, Mr Philip Taylor, who attended only one day at the new Malton School before being taken ill and eventually dying. Malton School had gone for ever. Many people asked me in regretted its passing, and in many ways, yes of course I did. But things had to move on and as a parent I was extremely grateful that the change did take place. I am convinced that I would have had children in both schools, and I remain firmly of the view that this would not be good for family life